Day 3: April 9, 2015: 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting for Marriage
April 09, 2015
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep… But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep Jn 10:10-13
In Scripture God is called the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 80:1). Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd in John 10:11. And in Ephesians 4:11we learn that when Christ rose from the dead and ascended on high, he gave spiritual gifts to people, among them pastors (the Greek word that literally means shepherds).
Today, we must pray for pastors across America, those whom God gave special enabling gifts to serve as shepherds to keep watch over our souls (Hebrews 13:17), not just the particular souls in their local church, but the souls in our communities, respective states, our nation and in some measure, the nations of the world. The ministry of the pastor, like that of Christ, is to shepherd the sheep, to watch over them, to care for them, to protect them from dangerous predators, and to lay down his life for them, if need be.
We need not look deeply into our nation’s history to see the price of silence and its horrendous consequences. Since 1973, Roe v. Wade gave every woman a “right” to take the life of her baby in the womb. By many estimates, 58 million babies have died as a result. Perhaps if the pastors of America had risen up as one, if they had rushed to Washington, DC with shepherd’s hearts, if they had stood with courage and said to our elected officials, this evil is not going to take place on my watch, I will not leave this place until this evil ruling has been overturned, we would not have abortion in America today. Perhaps 58 million babies would not have died.
Today, we are at another crossroads. Marriage is under threat. We are all responsible. But the pastors have a unique responsibility for this institution because of their unique role in it, both as ministerial officials over it and as shepherds of the flock of God.
The Pastor and Marriage: Many states require ministers to have a license in order to officiate a marriage. Nearly every pastor in America has also known the joy of conducting a marriage ceremony between a man and woman. Reciting the words of the marriage service, for some hundreds of times, pastors experience the unique presence and power of God, the holiness and solemnity of the moment, as well as the joy and the possibilities of the future. Each has spoken words, passed down through time and tradition, similar to these:
Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence ofGod to witness and bless the joining together of this man andthis woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant ofmarriage was established by God in creation, and our LordJesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence andfirst miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to usthe mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, andHoly Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.
The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind isintended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfortgiven one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is
God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurturein the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage isnot to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently,
deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which itwas instituted by God.
Into this holy unionthis man and this woman now come to be joined.If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully bemarried, speak now; or else for ever hold your peace.
Then, after prayers, the vows, the preaching of the word and other ceremonial components, the pastor says:
Now thatthis man andthis woman have given themselves to each other bysolemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving andreceiving of a ring, I now pronounce that they are husbandand wife, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, andof the Holy Spirit.
Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.
These final words come from Jesus’ instructions to the Pharisees who were arguing over marriage Matthew 19:4-6:
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Pray for our pastors today that they will rise to the occasion of this critical hour:
1) That they will pray as they have never prayed before in their lives. That they will cry out to God for this covenantal, organic institution that God wove into the fabric of humankind in the Garden.
2) Pray that they will call their churches to prayer during these weeks before the oral arguments and lead them into aggressive but solemn prayer.
3) Pray that they will preach on marriage and lead their congregations into crying out to God that He would show us mercy, that our Supreme Court will not dare to touch that which God created and anointed, and that the fear of God will come upon each Justice.
4) Pray that churches all over America would call their people to pray in groups, conduct vigils, fasts, solemn assemblies, and conference calls – all kinds of prayer.
5) Pray that pastors may lead their people to pray over each Justice, that God will move upon each one to persuade him or her to think and vote aright.
6) Pray that they urge their people to not stand idly but take action to urge their elected leaders to respond if this ruling goes the wrong way.
7) Pray for your own pastor and pray for pastors across America, that they will arise to their unique role at this moment. The wolf is at the door. May our pastors be shown to be good shepherds, who, when they see the wolf coming, will do what Jesus did!
8) Pray that denominational leaders, pastors of pastors will arise, lead with urgency and call those whom they serve to arise to the emergency we face, calling them to do what is written here.
Many pastors have remained aloof from the cultural battles of our day but these are not just “cultural” battles, they are moral and spiritual battles for the soul of our nation. If they are not won on the knees of pastors and their people – we will enter into a dark night of the soul, the likes of which we have never imagined. Let us cry out to God!
I encourage you to pray, plan, participate and use the resources offered below: